Breakthrough in US nuclear fusion technology, creating a “miniature sun”

China News Service, February 14th According to US media reports on the 14th, although only lasting for a short while, American scientists have repeated the process of the sun to create energy, creating a “mini-sun”. This has rekindled the hope that nuclear fusion may one day become a source of cheap energy on the planet.

In an experiment conducted by the US Department of Energy’s lab last fall, researchers used the world’s most powerful laser device to emit laser light at a bean-sized target and trigger a nuclear fusion reaction. , released a huge amount of energy in less than a second.

The results of the above study were published in the journal Nature on Wednesday (12th). The first author of the paper, Omar Hurricane, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said that by using this technology, they achieved fuel output energy greater than the first time in the world. Enter energy.

This is far from the final realization of the so-called “ignition”. In the “ignition” process, the overall device generates more energy in a self-sustaining chain reaction than it consumes, which is a practical prerequisite for nuclear fusion power generation. In previous experiments, the laser energy was mostly dissipated and failed to reach the fuel.

But the latest experimental results mark that after years of setbacks and failures, the United States has finally taken a step forward on this project. This also provides a viable model for future commercial nuclear fusion reactors.

Steven Cowley, director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, said the experiment showed that lasers and lasers used by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory With similar scales, it is possible to achieve “ignition”. Cowley was not involved in the study.

Today’s nuclear power plants generate electricity through nuclear fission, a process involving atomic splitting. In nuclear fusion, the nucleus fuses with each other under ultra-high temperature and high pressure, and releases energy.

In the 1950s, when the first hydrogen bomb was detonated, people realized the power of nuclear fusion. But it has always been much more difficult to control nuclear fusion and use it for peaceful purposes (many scientists use a tone of speech here), although people still have good reasons to keep trying. .

Nuclear fusion is the most efficient of any known energy production process. Nuclear fusion fuels are readily available from nature, and nuclear fusion has little risk of producing toxic by-products or nuclear meltdown.

The above new experiment was conducted at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Located in California, the facility is a 10-story building that occupies approximately three football fields. The facility costs $3.5 billion and was put into use in 2009. Since then, the operating costs of the facility have reached hundreds of millions of dollars.

Responsible Editor: Zhang Yang

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